Can Stress Cause Digestive Issues?
Stress doesn’t play hit and miss with your body, picking and chooses certain areas to affect while leaving other parts of it alone. Instead, stress launches a full body attack and impacts you from head to toe.
It can even cause digestive issues that can mildly or significantly impact your ability to live normally. When it comes to stress, you have to first understand that your gastrointestinal function doesn’t operate as a standalone system.
Your digestive system works in tandem with your brain and nervous system. When something goes wrong with either of those, the fallout is passed down to your digestive system.
That’s because your gastrointestinal system passes and receives signals. Stress disrupts or scrambles these signals. When you’re under stress, the systems can’t work smoothly and it causes a break down in communication.
You can get scrambled signals for things like differentiating how your body handles the digestive order. The process that works to handle the food can shortchange the amount of enzymes used or it can release too many enzymes.
You can experience spasms - not only in your esophagus, but in your stomach as well. The production of acid within your stomach can be affected by stress. Your food won’t be broken down the way it should and your body won’t be able to absorb the nutrition like it normally does when you’re not stressed.
Stress can cause stomach pain and nausea. It can cause your bowels to slow down so you develop constipation or it can cause them to speed up so that you end up with diarrhea.
You can develop inflammation within your digestive system. This can lead to cramps, weight loss, and fever. You may develop painful bloating. When your digestive system is affected by stress, it can cause you to have heartburn and it can lead to the development of serious gastrointestinal conditions.
You can develop ulcers due to the stress your body is feeling. Though it’s true that ulcers are directly linked to a specific bacteria, it’s the upset in the normal function of the digestive system under stress that allows this bacteria to flourish to the point of causing an ulcer.
If you have a condition such as IBS, stress can worsen that. Stress is known to cause flare ups of certain diseases such as IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The reason that stress can impact your digestive system so heavily is because hormones are released when the body experiences stress.
These hormones flood your entire gastrointestinal system and throw it out of balance.
The stress that you’re under can keep your system out of balance until you take steps to alleviate it.
Stress Can Cause Obesity to Spiral Out of Control
If you’re struggling with obesity, being under stress can cause you to continue to gain. It can reach the point where the weight gain gets out of control. Stress is one of the key factors in packing on the pounds.
Part of the reason why you gain more weight if you’re under stress has to do with your hormones. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol. This stress hormone is helpful when you’re in a dangerous situation because it’s your flight or fight response.
But when you’re not in danger, your body is just flooded with cortisol and that cortisol prods you to want to eat. Not only does it make you to want to eat, but you find yourself pulled toward foods that are known to cause weight gain and health problems - foods like chips, cookies, cakes and fast foods are what you want.
There’s a reason the cortisol boost makes you want foods like that. It’s because when your body thinks there’s danger, it wants food in response to the hormonal outburst. Your body’s appetite increases, your digestion and metabolism slow down and your cravings feel like they went through the roof.
Because your metabolism slows down during stress, your body doesn’t handle calories or weight the same way it does when you’re not under stress. Along with the slower metabolism, stress causes changes in the way your body processes glucose.
You’ll find that your blood sugar can become elevated and stay elevated when you’re stressed. This leads to a desire to eat more, which then causes your glucose levels to rise sharply and quickly if you eat the sugary junk foods that are known to cause spikes.
Then those spikes fall, leaving you feeling jittery, and craving more sugary foods. When you’re stressed, you’ll eat greater portion sizes because you’re not so much feeding the hunger as you are trying to silence the emotions that go along with the stress.
Emotional eating has longed been linked with stress and people eat to feed emotions such as anger, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Overeating is also linked to the higher production of cortisol in your body that stress produces.
So what happens is stress triggers the changes throughout your body that lead to more hunger and combined with the slower metabolism, greater weight gain. This reaction that occurs isn’t something that can be fixed simply by dieting.
Because while the weight gain is the effect, it’s not the cause. The cause is the stress - and until you address the stress and deal with that, you’ll always have an uphill battle regarding weight gain.
Once you take care of the stress, you’ll find that it’s easier to stop the weight gain and lose the extra pounds because your body’s cortisol hormones will return to normal levels and your metabolism will pick back up.
Stress Can Worsen Diabetes Symptoms
Diabetes is a condition that requires consistent control in order to minimize the effects the disease has on your health. When you have good glucose control, you can have a similar life expectancy of someone who doesn’t have the condition.
But when stress is in the picture, it can impact your day to day health as well as your long term health. When you’re under stress, your body immediately kicks into gear and raises your hormone levels in an attempt to fight back against whatever the stress is.
The rise in hormone levels introduces a flood of cortisol. In people with a normal metabolic reaction to stress, the blood sugar then returns to normal. Those who have diabetes don’t have the same results.
When someone who has diabetes experiences stress, the body isn’t able to process the glucose released by the hormone reaction. As a result of that, the glucose isn’t absorbed or used.
Instead, it remains in the blood and you’ll notice that when you check your glucose level. If you’re subject to a constant barrage of stress and the body’s hormone reaction to stress, it causes long term elevated stress levels.
This leads to ineffectual glucose management, which in turn causes your diabetes and the related symptoms to spiral out of control. You can have stress that’s physical or emotional, but your body doesn’t differentiate between the types of stress.
It simply reacts to the stress itself. You can have headaches, fatigue, stomach pain, shoulder pain and mood swings as a result of stress. Because a diabetic can’t get their glucose back into balance the way that someone without diabetes naturally can, your health is put at risk.
Uncontrolled glucose levels can lead to nerve damage, skin infection or rashes, dental problems, kidney damage, heart attacks, blindness and loss of limbs. When the stress is being controlled and the glucose levels are within range, someone who has diabetes doesn’t face those issues.
But when the stress isn’t under control, then your diabetes won’t be either. The longer it goes uncontrolled, the more damage you’ll experience to your body. For someone who has diabetes, stress raises your blood pressure.
Many people with diabetes have borderline hypertension or have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Because the stress raises the blood pressure, that can cause more problems for your heart.
Stress is bad for anyone - but it’s twice as bad for someone with diabetes. In order to be able to regulate your glucose, you must find a way to eliminate the stress. If you’re in a stressful situation or you have chronic stress, learning how you can eliminate stress or remain calm can help prevent your glucose from constantly being high.
Is Your Hair Thinning Due to Stress?
Stress is a big cause of significant health and emotional problems. If you’re experiencing stress, your body goes through changes that reflects that mental chao. One of these changes is thinning hair.
The technical name for this is telogen effluvium and it can cause a once normal full head of hair to thin in patches, to fall out in clumps and to result in bald areas on your scalp.
When that happens, it’s a sign that you’re under a heavy stress load and it needs to be dealt with. Fortunately, the hair loss condition isn’t permanent, but it will last as long as you’re under the stress.
Everyone loses some hair, but it’s usually so minimal, you hardly even notice it. When you start noticing a lot of hair loss when you wash or brush your hair and you’re also under stress, that can be a bad sign.
The cause of thinning hair when you’re under stress is because stress can stop your body’s normal hair growth cycle. Your hair goes through stages of growth times and then it enters into a rest period.
The majority of your hair remains in a constant state of growth. That’s why you don’t usually notice the small portion that’s not in the growth cycle. Stress gets between the natural cycle and causes more strands of hair to get pushed from the follicles during the resting phase.
It also interrupts the natural growth period. Because stress causes this two part hair growth interruption, new hair doesn’t grow as fast as it normally would and the reaction caused by stress, the telogen effluvium, leaves your hair noticeably thinner.
The kinds of stress that can lead to hair thinning can be caused by an illness that’s ongoing. It can be stress related to medication, some that you take or some that you stop taking.
Not eating a healthy diet or going on crash diets can trigger stress that leads to the temporary hair thinning condition. Giving birth can cause the reaction of thinning hair if you’re under stress.
Being under emotional stress is a known cause of the condition. This would be stress such as having financial or relationship problems. It could be caused by stress from dealing with a job change or a move.
The condition kicks in when you’re stressed because of how stress causes your hormone levels to get out of balance. The longer you’re stressed, the more hair thinning you’ll experience.
But the good news is that the thinning hair is completely reversal if you eliminate the stress you’ve been under. You can eliminate stress through a number of ways such as by exercising, or using meditation.
Stress Will Defeat Your Anti Aging Efforts
You might be doing all that you can do outwardly to slow the signs of aging. You may be practicing a good skin care routine, making sure you get enough sleep, exercising regularly and eating healthy.
But all that effort is wasted if you live with chronic stress. Stress is one of the big factors when it comes to sabotaging your anti-aging efforts. The toll begins deep within your body on a cellular level.
Stress damages your mitochondria. Your mitochondria are structures known as organelles that are within your cells. Your mitochondria reacts to various factors, both physical and mental that can change your health, both short and long term.
The job of the organelles is to create energy for your body. When the mitochondria become impaired due to stress, a number of events take place that you may not even realize.
The first thing is that you become open to developing ongoing cell damage, inflammation and disease. The organelles filter your life and are instrumental in dealing with how your body as a whole reacts to stress.
When you let stress go and you don’t deal with it, the mitochondria can reach their limit. They simply aren’t able to cope with a high volume of stress. As a result, the clock starts ticking and the signs of aging multiply.
You’ll see things like skin damage, hair that loses its luster, muscle weakness, organ damage, cognitive problems and vision or hearing issues. Stress doesn’t just age you at a cellular level.
It also affects your brain. Stress can age your brain and even make it shrink in size. That’s because stress causes a reaction within the body that alerts the brain’s hypothalamus.
As a result, the brain pushes for a greater production of cortisol. Left unchecked, this flood of cortisol impedes the brain’s ability to work properly. The stress interferes with the synapse function, eliminates viable brain cells and stunts the cortex.
At the same time, the cortisol flood causes a loop effect, meaning it can make the effect of stress on your brain even greater. This causes age related issues like forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and confusion.
Studies have linked high cortisol levels in the brain to cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Many people don’t realize that vision is impacted by stress and vision loss can occur as a result.
You can experience things like glaucoma, retinopathy and other age related eye problems. Stress damages the nerves within the eyes because of the higher levels of cortisol in the body.
It’s the same thing with your hearing. Stress can hasten the decline in your hearing. It can cause things like tinnitus, hearing loss, partial or full deafness. Stress can cause high blood pressure, too, which causes damage to your blood vessels.
Vessels are impacted throughout your body - including in your ears. If you don’t minimize or get rid of stress, you will feel and see the effects. It’ll make you feel older than you are and your appearance will change to reflect what’s going on in your body.
A Dozen Ways to Successfully Deal with Stress
Stress is what happens when you have so much to deal with emotionally or physically, and the burdens overwhelms you. This is why you can deal with many stressors and then all of a sudden something minor like dropping a glass of milk makes you start crying or feels like the final straw.
When you let stress build, it can feel as if it’s all too much to handle so you end up doing nothing. Or worse, you start trying to deal with the stress by using alcohol or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Dealing with stress head on is always best and here are a dozen ways that you can effectively do that.
By using visualization or other forms of meditation, it can help relieve the pressure of stress building up. You don’t have to be an expert to get started with meditation, either. You can use self-help books, online tutorials, guided imagery podcasts or other means.
Meditation takes your mind out of the middle of the stress and allows you to focus your thoughts. While you’re meditating, the constant badgering you sometimes get from stress will be eliminated because it won’t have center stage in your thoughts.
This practice can be done anywhere at any time and it doesn’t take long to reap the benefits of using meditation to deal with stress. Your mind and body will align and relax while using meditation.
It helps you let go of the negativity brought on by stress and instead keep your mind set on what’s good, what’s peaceful and what’s helpful to you. Meditation gives you a coping skill that helps you eliminate the effects of the flight or fight response that occurs when you’re under stress. You’ll be able to lower your blood pressure and feel the weight of your stressors lift from your shoulders.
Know Your Stressors
Sometimes people aren’t prepared for handling stress because they don’t know exactly what it is about their life that’s causing the stress reaction. By understanding what causes you stress, you can manage and eliminate it.
Fear and anxiety is a stressor. You can feel this kind of stress when you start playing the what if game - what if you lose your job, what if you can’t your bills, what if your partner breaks up with you, what if you get sick, etc.
This is projection thinking that takes you out of the present day and causes your mind to live in a state of what “could” happen in the future. It’s worrying about something that hasn’t happened and may never happen.
Issues with relatives can also be a stressor. You could have people in your life that you simply don’t get along with. Or you could have family members who are involved in situations that are bad and you feel the stress from that.
Leaving your normal way of life can be a stressor. This includes things like taking on a new job or leaving one, moving to a new home or new state, ending a relationship or starting one, going to college or graduating or having a child or having a child move out.
It’s anything that shakes up how you routinely live your life. Health issues can be a stressor. Whenever you not feeling well or you’re dealing with a chronic health problem, it can cause stress.
You feel the stress more when the health issue gets in the way of you being able to handle your day to day activities or your job. Job performance, both good and bad, can be a stressor.
When you do well at work, you may feel the stress and pressure to continually outdo yourself. When you do poorly, you may fear the boss’s reaction or the loss of your job.
Work and family balance is another stressor.
You can feel pulled in two directions and feel like your life isn’t balanced. This can cause you to feel stressed that you’re not able to do your best at work or at home because your time is being stretched too thin.
Track Your Stressors
You can’t fight what you can’t see coming. But when you write down what you’re going to be handling that day, it helps you deal with stress. It does this because you’ll be identifying all the situations for that day and what the potential stressors are going to be.
Identify what it is about the situation (or the person) that’s going to be in your day that’s causing you to feel the stress. For example, if you have to attend your child’s school for an event and the ex you don’t get along with is going to be there, you should know ahead of time how to handle the negative emotions that will rise up.
Maybe you can strategize a way to minimize interaction, too. Know ahead of time that when you feel the anger, you’ll practice meditation deep breathing exercises – because this can help you keep the situation and yourself calm.
Discover the Power of No
One common cause of stress is being too busy saying yes to others that you end up saying no to yourself. Know your limitations and don’t exceed them. Every day you’re going to be bombarded with people and situations that want you to say yes and give your time and energy.
But being a consistent “yes” person is the road to stress. You can’t take time for yourself or what you really want to do if you don’t practice using the power of no. Most people refrain from saying no out of fear that they’ll appear selfish, but saying no to someone isn’t selfish.
It’s practicing the art of self care. When you have a problem telling other people no, or even telling yourself no to things, you add to your workload and can over-do what you’re capable of.
You’ll end up - not only stressed - but your immune system can take a hit as well since stress lowers your body’s immune system defenses. Learning to say no can free you from the guilt that comes along with saying yes.
Many people only agree to something because they feel guilted into it or they guilt themselves into it. Just keep in mind that by saying no, you’re taking care of your body and that’s a good thing.
When you say no, let that be your one word explanation. If someone asks, “why not” in response to your no, recognize that as a boundary issue. You don’t owe anyone a reason. By saying no, you free yourself from overextending your own time and causing yourself unnecessary stress.
Get Enough Sleep
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can cause a delayed reaction time in situations such as driving or trying to do your job. It also causes memory problems, weight gain, and can lead to serious health issues.
But not getting the right amount of sleep can cause stress and worsen the stress you may already have. A lack of sleep causes your decision making ability to be affected and you end up making poor choices that increase your stress.
This happens when you get tired and you end up not really wanting to deal with whatever you’re trying to handle. So you end up saying no to good opportunities and yes to bad ones.
The lack of sleep can cause a cycle. When you don’t get enough rest, it causes stress, which in turn causes insomnia. With each feeding into the other, it can make your stress level increase and reach the point where you find it difficult to deal with even minor problems.
Stop Ignoring Problems
You might believe that it’s better not to deal with an issue that’s causing you stress - that if you don’t handle it, you’re protecting yourself. But what you’re doing is actually making your stress worse.
Common problems that people don’t like to deal with yet cause stress are: home repairs, car repairs, financial problems, children or teenage behavior, arguments/issues with your spouse, family problems, environmental problems or fear of world problems.
When a problem arises, deal with it as soon as possible. If you put it off, the problem can only get bigger and when it grows, it’ll take more of your energy and resources to fix.
Problems don’t ride off into the sunset just because they aren’t dealt with. They linger, quietly nagging at the back of your mind even while you’re trying to ignore them. This internal nagging is at work building your stress. Face your problems, deal with them head on, and free yourself from stress.
Lower Your Expectations
One of the reasons that people have stress is because their expectations are out of whack. They have high expectations for other people and for themselves. So when things don’t work out as they expected, they feel not only disappointed, but stressed as well.
You can tell if your expectations are causing you stress if you think that your life wasn’t supposed to turn out the way that it has - or if you think your partner wasn’t supposed to behave the way he or she did.
It causes you stress because you were expecting something you didn’t receive. You feel disappointment that the picture in your mind wasn’t painted correctly in reality. Relief from stress is found by having realistic expectations for yourself and for the others in your life as well.
Learn to accept yourself for who you are, and others for who they are. When you consider your life, rather than feeling stressed for what hasn’t worked out, focus on the good that has. Stop putting the pressure and stress on yourself to do more or to be more.
Find a Hobby You Enjoy
When you find something you like doing, it acts as a stress reliever because it gives you an outlet. A hobby can be a way for you to release the anxiety and pent up emotions that go along with dealing with stress.
You can get involved in music such as finding new songs or new bands. You can check out the local music scene where you live and attend free music festivals or shows for singers and bands just getting started.
Painting and other creative things such as sketching or coloring can be a hobby that works as a stress outlet. There’s also journaling. You don’t have to be good at writing to journal.
It’s just putting words down that are talking about how you’re feeling or what’s gone on during your day. Some people get into gardening. You can do vegetable and fruit or flowering gardening.
You can do a mixture of all three. Taking up knitting or crocheting is a great hobby that can help you deal with stress. You can learn a new skill such as a second language. Or you can learn how to play an instrument.
You can get involved in community theater or take acting classes. Going for regular hikes to explore new places is a great way to deal with stress. So is volunteering. By investing yourself in someone else, it successfully manages stress.
Create a To-Do List
You might wonder why creating a to-do list can help you manage stress. The answer is because when stress hits, you feel like everything is going wrong. You feel like nothing is within your ability to cope.
This feeling of being out of control can increase your stress level. Sometimes stress develops because people feel like they have so much to do or to overcome that it causes action paralysis, which then worsens stress.
By creating a to-do list, it helps a person prioritize the important things and they’re able to focus on getting one thing at a time accomplished. Rather than focusing on what they have to do in its entirety, which can make stress rise, they’re able to get through the day by choosing bite size action steps.
When you have a step-by- step to-do list it allows you to feel like you’re in control. This works well even if you don’t necessarily have a lot on your plate to handle. A physical list takes the pressure off your mental checklist.
Find Your Support System
One of the worst things about stress is when you try to keep it all inside. When your job isn’t working out well, your partner isn’t being helpful, and your kids are constantly pushing your buttons, you need a way to come to terms with the stress that you’re feeling.
If you don’t let it out, the stress pressure builds. You need to have someone to talk to about what you’re going through. This someone may not be able to do anything to change your situation.
But by simply being there to listen, it relieves you of the buildup you’re feeling. Talking through what’s happening with you and what’s causing your stress makes you feel better even if the situation is still present.
Your support can be a trusted friend, a relative, a romantic partner or a trained counselor. Sharing how you’re feeling relieves the emotional toll such as anxiety and depression that are often linked to stress.
Create a Strategy
Every single bit of stress in your life can be traced back to a trigger. It’s always cause and effect. Something happens and there’s a mental, emotional or physical reaction. There are consequences or changes that led to the stress.
For example, your boss gives you a better position. You make more money. Now you’re stressed. Not because you got the position that you wanted, but because there are more responsibilities.
It might be more time away from home. You might feel worried that you’re not up to par.
What you have to do when stress hits is trace backward to get to the root of your stress. When you find that, you can create a strategy to eliminate the stress.
If you take the new position at work, have a plan to enlist more help at home or hire outside help. If you’re worried you’re not knowledgeable enough about the new position, ask for help such as more training or take a course. Your strategy should make you proactive and show you what you need to do to help you deal with your stress.
You must reach the place where you realize that despite how hard you try, there are some things you just can’t solve. By wasting time worrying and trying to find a fix for the unfixable, you’re just creating stress.
You can’t fix a coworker who’s lazy or is a jerk. You can’t force a loved one not to break up with you. You can’t order every event in your life to be as you wish it to be. You don’t have any control over things that are outside your ability to change.
What you have to do is accept what you can’t change and make peace with it. When you waste energy striving to try to force things to happen that are beyond your scope, you end up frustrated and stressed.
Accepting that you’re powerless to change everything that affects you is a hard thing to do but it’s necessary in order to deal with stress. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re strong enough to move on with your life rather than remaining stuck.
For many people, stress is a common occurrence, arising from various events that happen each day. At some point, stress becomes something that we’re almost used to. However, whether you’re used to being stressed out or not, stress can have the same negative physical and mental effects on you.
Stress affects everyone differently. Different things can cause stress more than others depending on the person. However, there are some common signs of stress that you have to watch out for.
While you may not be able to realize that you’re stressed out right away, you’ll likely be able to notice these signs easily enough. First, you might find it to be easier to identify the physical signs of stress.
Strangely, stress can cause a variety of negative physical effects, including increased heartrate, headaches or migraines, lowered immune system, and even feelings of nausea.
These can all lead to further stress or worsened physical effects if they’re left unchecked. Next, you’ll notice the emotional signs. The most common one among people is that they start to become irritable and easily angered.
The smallest things can provoke them and set them off. On the inside, you might feel panicked, as if you’re losing all control and your life is in some kind of tailspin right now. Similarly, you might find it really difficult to focus.
With so many thoughts running through your head, your brain won’t be operating at its best, so you’ll find it a lot harder to sit down and focus on doing the things that you need to do.
Procrastination is often used as a means to relieve stress, but only tends to make the stress worse. Dangerously, you might notice in some people or in yourself that they begin to drink more or start to abuse drugs.
This can create a whole world of horrible issues, but is often used as a means of helping their stress initially. It’s important to pay attention to these signs if you really want to resolve your stress.
One of the most important things about stress relief is being able to seek out the sources of your stress and deal with them directly, but you won’t be able to do that if you don’t realize that you’re stressed out in the first place.
After you’re able to understand that you’re stressed out and you figure out what signs point to it, you’ll then be able to move on and start dealing with each issue on an individual basis.
When you get really stressed out, the smallest little things can set you off and make you upset – like someone driving too slowly in front of you on your way to work, someone messing up an order you placed, or even someone just phrasing something wrong.
One thing you might’ve noticed when you’re really stressed out is that you might begin to break out with acne all of a sudden. This can be extremely annoying in the moment and can cause even more stress for you, having to worry about your appearance and wondering if people are staring at you.
In reality, it’s not that big of a deal, and is a very common occurrence, particularly in younger adults or teenagers. It’s been known for some time now that stress and break outs share a significant connection, though it’s still not entirely clear what that connection is.
It’s been extensively researched and studied accounting for a wide variety of variables, and stress still seems to be the most pressing factor in acne break outs. Some scientists believe it to be related to hormone production and the way certain cells in your body respond to the hormones, but it’s not known for sure.
There are a few different ways to help yourself make it through these break outs. The best long term solution is to resolve what it is that’s stressing you out, though this can be difficult and will definitely take some time to do.
In a shorter time span, you can temporarily relieve some stress by relaxing and changing your mindset, which can help lower your stress levels considerably for a short period.
Additionally, if you don’t already have some form of face cleansing routine, starting one can do wonders for your stress-induced breakouts. It can be anything as simple as washing your face nightly to something as advanced as having multiple scrubs that have to be used at certain times of the day.
The whole point of any routine is to get the excess oils off of your face, but it also has a certain stress relieving element to it. By getting yourself into some kind of concrete cycle, you make it a lot easier on yourself to keep up with your routine.
It also feels like you’re giving yourself some general structure to go off of, which can help a lot if you’re feeling stressed out with the rest of your life in chaos or turmoil. You can even find facial cleansers that have an aromatherapy scent like lavender to help calm you during stressful times.
The Tough Love Guide to Stress Relief
Stress seems to be seeping into more areas of the average person’s life – and not just existing – but almost overpowering people to the point of depression and anxiety on a continual basis.
You may have realized your stress issues a long time ago. At first, maybe you just dealt with it like most people do – ignore it until it bubbled over into tears or anger or exhaustion.
But then it might have gotten worse – to the point where you become aware that you rarely have any good days anymore and that it seems every time you lay your head on your pillow, your mind is flooded with a recap of everything you disliked about your day and what tomorrow might have in store for you (none of it smile-worthy).
There are many ways to alleviate stress. You’ll hear many people teach you to meditate, to use aromatherapy, and to journal your anxiety and anger away. But if you’ve tried all that, and you’re still complaining – then maybe it’s time to make some bold moves and kick things up a notch in your fight against this monster that seems to be taking over your life.
One of the biggest problems with the stress epidemic today is that most people know they feel it, but they just find something that sounds relaxing to apply to it – like a Band-Aid.
That doesn’t fix the problem. It’s like you having a disease, and instead of getting to the root of the matter, the doctor just gives you a pain pill. If there was a fix, so that you didn’t have to take that pill again, wouldn’t you want to know about it?
Some people are too general in identifying their stress. You have to say more than, “I don’t have enough time,” or, “I hate my job.” A simple, “People annoy me” statement won’t do, either – you have to analyze it and find out exactly what it is that’s eating away at you.
While some people journal their feelings away, as if to spill all of the stress onto a page – you can do it for a different reason – to pinpoint the exact cause of what’s bugging you.
Sometimes you might routinely mention something like, “I don’t have enough time,” but when you really pick apart the day on paper, you realize that you don’t have enough time because your spouse isn’t pitching in with the kids or errands and you feel disrespected and unsupported.
Identifying your stressors is like deconstructing a meal. You might see the finished item on your plate, but how did it become the chicken parmesan that you see before you? When you work backwards to see what all went into the recipe (or your stress), you’re able to identify important ingredients.
For example, you might feel exhausted and simply think you work too much, but as you work your way back, you discover you’re not sleeping right and if you could simple tweak your sleep hygiene, it might improve the way you handle the regular chaos of every single day.
Start with making some word bubbles of your day as you go through it. Maybe once each hour. Write down an adjective that describes how you felt in the past hour, and a general idea of why.
For example – you might write sad because your parent called and told you about your sibling’s circumstances, which are always a mess. Or you might feel angry because a coworker dumped their project on you at the last minute.
Maybe you felt happy because you got an hour alone one night and you were able to indulge in your favorite TV show without interruption. Be honest about your emotions and then, when you see them, start deconstructing that they’re all about.
The issue with your parent calling to commiserate about your sibling might be deconstructed like this when you’re thinking of what made you feel sad about it:
– Your parent never calls unless it’s to complain.
– Your sibling and you are estranged and you don’t want to hear about their problems.
– Your parent always calls you at work when you’re trying to be productive.
When you deconstruct the issue, you might be able to find solutions or workarounds for the problem. For example, maybe you tell your parent that you don’t want to discuss your sibling anymore – or maybe you tell them that you can’t accept calls at work anymore, so you’ll have to chat on the weekend only.
The key is to understand why things make you feel the way they do – so you can experience fewer down moments and get more of those moments that provide immense personal satisfaction for you.
The only way this will go wrong is if you aren’t honest with yourself about things. It’s okay to admit to yourself in a journal that you want 60 minutes without your spouse so you can watch a show without him or her chiming in about it.
Boundaries are not comfortable for anybody. They work, and they work very well – but they make the person setting them uncomfortable and the person on the receiving end either angry, sad or a mix of emotions.
For those who have always felt victimized by the actions or opinions of others, the act of setting boundaries will free you from that label and the stress that comes with it. Being a victim is something you choose – it’s not a decision the other person gets to make.
What does it mean to have boundaries? It can mean different things to different people. For some, it might be something as simple as no longer discussing serious matters with certain friends or family members – keeping them at arm’s length, so to speak.
For others, it can be limited your interaction with that person. Maybe you used to speak to them daily, so to protect yourself from the stress they cause you, you begin dialing down your communication with them from frequently to rarely.
In some cases, you may even have to completely eliminate someone from your life. If they’re that toxic, and if they refuse to abide by the boundaries you put in place, then you can free yourself from that stress by cutting them out of your life.
This is the most difficult thing for many people to do. Instead of seeing it as a protective and preventative measure, they’d rather not suffer the discomfort of cutting the person off, and therefore invite more emotional abuse every day thereafter.
You can start with small boundaries and build up from there – giving the other person the ability to respect your boundaries first. But understand that most people don’t know what boundaries are, and have no intention of abiding by them.
Let’s say you get stressed whenever the phone rings and you see it’s your mom – because you know she only calls to discuss your brother, who you’re estranged from and who has a chaotic, criminal life.
First, you can try setting the boundary of telling your mom that you no longer will be discussing your brother. You don’t ask her not to speak of him – because that gives her the control.
You demand it. Calmly and respectfully, either explain that the issue brings stress to your life – or don’t explain at all, and simply inform her of your boundary. Now if she continues speaking about him, you can then limit calls to one day on the weekend only.
If, on that weekend day, you realize she has no interest in you – but only uses you as a way to unload her own burdensome stress regarding your brother – then you can make the tough decision to eliminate contact until she understands the boundary – or forever, if it brings you peace.
Only you can decide what constitutes cutting someone out of your life. That’s a drastic, yet necessary step for many to make. It depends on how much stress having that person in your life creates.
If it’s overwhelming, then you are literally hurting your body physically to flood it with cortisol (the stress hormone) day after day. If you find a way to easily get past it, then it may not be that big of a deal to you.
This type of boundary isn’t just about people. It’s about things that result in stress, too. Maybe you agreed to some sort of responsibility like being a room mom – that you find is causing you to fall behind on work or not be able to give relationships the attention they deserve.
You may have to set a boundary that you will either finish out that year and never get strong-armed into the role again, ask that the other room moms take on their fair share of the duties – or, request that someone else take the reins and the role and allow you to get back control of your life.
When you deconstruct your feelings and pinpoint the stressor, give yourself some time to analyze how much of an impact it truly has on you – how serious it is. When you understand that, jot down a few boundary options that range from mild to severe – and keep those on hand to remind you of what can be done if the person or situation doesn’t resolve itself easily.
Be aware that there is usually a backlash to people setting boundaries. They don’t want to give up control of the situation and they don’t appreciate you shutting them out. A boundary is simply you taking control of what you will allow to affect you, so don’t be bullied into backing down.
With stress, have you ever noticed how many people like to complain? You probably do it every single day – gripe about the traffic, your weight, the boss, your relationship with someone.
In order to fix the stress issue for good, you have to start realizing that much of this is your fault. Not what the other person or situation is doing, but in how you allow it to affect you and what you plan to do about it.
It’s time to get fed up hearing yourself complain about things and actually take steps to remedy them. Put your foot down and reclaim control over your life. There are many instances where the people stressing you out don’t even know it’s affecting you so bad – mainly because we’re so programmed to be polite and not lash out like that.
But it’s not rude to make your preferences known and then act if someone else doesn’t back off and leave you alone. For example, if a coworker has a way of dumping their projects on you – decline to accept them!
Tell the person you’re already working on something. Make them start accepting responsibility for their own schedule and not using you as a crutch to achieve their career goals.
If you’re always complaining about work – either the career itself or the people you work with – blame yourself for not getting out to change things. Pursue a different career or find another place of employment.
If you’re always complaining that your friend tries to get you to cheat on your diet when you go to lunch with her and it stresses you out, stop going to lunch with her! Either engage in a non food activity, or be blunt and explain that if she can’t stop doing that, you won’t be able to see her anymore.
At first, you’re going to be really nervous and question if what you just did was the right thing to do. These are major changes. And yet, you’ll start to feel so empowered and so free – that you’ll wonder why you didn’t take these steps sooner.
This is the time when you work on the smaller stress relief goals of your life. If you eliminate the chaotic schedule, then you suddenly find extra time to relax and enjoy life. This is the perfect time to inject more stress relief into your day – the kinds of things like aromatherapy, massage, meditation, and more.
Stress will never go away. Always remember that even when things seem to be calm and enjoyable, anything can happen the next week, day or minute. Be prepared to handle those situations by strengthening your resolve to protect and pamper yourself first and foremost.
This is a great role model situation for you to be in with your children, too. Imagine if your child complained every day about how his or her friend was using them and making them feel sad.
You’d probably encourage them to set boundaries and become strong. Show that you, yourself can do that. You aren’t being mean. You’re being smart. You’re preserving your sanity and living life to the fullest.
Most people will walk through life being walked over like a welcome mat. You don’t have to live like that anymore. Look the stress factors straight in the eye and take them out – one by one.
Learning how to deal with stress is something that everybody needs to know. Even our health can suffer the effects of stress which can also make it difficult to think clearly enough to solve even the simplest task. The good news is that there are simple easy techniques for reducing your stress which we will cover here in this article.
As more studies show the link between stress and many health problems, stress management becomes an important consideration for many people. These 3 top stress management ways can help you to reduce the levels of stress in your life, so make good use of them.
Go get a massage, this is the first method for reducing and managing stress levels. Massage has often been thought of as a great way to relieve sore muscles, but it can also reduce overall body tension, anxiety and stress too. There are a lot of studies that prove massage is a great way to reduce stress when done regularly. There are many different types of massage, so you should try several kinds and find the one that you prefer.
Nowadays it’s not usually hard to find qualified massage therapists. Massage can release endorphins in the brain which produce pleasure which is helpful in not only stress reduction but also helpful for emotional issues such as anxiety and depression to name a few.
We have all already probably heard of various methods of relaxation. Some of the most popular methods are basic mediation and the various forms of yoga. You can attend online or actual classes to learn the different parts of these methods so you can learn to relax. There are also other options to these major relaxation techniques. A simpler and more straightforward option would be to learn deep breathing techniques. You can use these even when you are seated in your work station. Progressive muscle relaxation and mental imagery are also possible basic techniques you can use against stress.
Exercising on Schedule
It’s just like what your physical education teacher always said. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule can do wonders for your body. The major benefit of exercise is that it can encourage the proper circulation of your blood. This in turn ensures that oxygen and nutrients reach the various cells in your body. You need these if you ever hope to fight the bad effects of stress on your health.
You’ve now heard only a few of the most effective stress management tips available there are still other ways to approach the management of your overall stress including enough sleep and eating health. What causes your stress can be as important as treating it so you need to know what that is. Stress management can take many forms, and the methods you use will depend on your circumstances and what you prefer.